According to the American Journal of Human Biology, a new study suggests people with more than one tattoo have better immune system responses to new tattoos than those who are getting tattooed for the first time.
The research states that the act of getting a tattoo activates the immune system in a way that can be compared to getting a vaccination, making one less susceptible to future illnesses. Although the study is small and needs some development, it does enlighten us to how the body can be trained to react to stress over time.
The study included researchers from the University of Alabama, who retrieved saliva samples from 29 different volunteers before the received tattoos and after they were given. Nine of the 29 volunteers were first-time tattoo recipients. The researchers analyzed the saliva samples for “immunoglobulin A, which is an antibody that lines the gastrointestinal and respiratory systems, and cortisol,” a stress hormone known to lower immune response.
After analyzing the data, the researchers discovered that the volunteers who had never received a tattoo had a much lower immunoglobulin A level than those who have had tattoos before. This could suggest that people who have had more experience with tattoos have an immune system that is more prepared for stress of that caliber.
“They don’t just hurt while you get the tattoo, but they can exhaust you,” Lynn, one of the lead researchers, said in the release. “It’s easier to get sick. You can catch a cold because your defenses are lowered from the stress of getting a tattoo.”
Lynn says that someone getting a tattoo for the first time is like an out-of-shape person exercising at the gym. One’s muscles are sore at first, but the pain reduces after one exercises enough.
Although there are some problems with this study, the fact that some people could simply have better immune systems than others or the fact that getting a tattoo can be dangerous if one goes to a tattoo shop which is careless with their instruments,causing infection, Lynn hopes the study can reduce the stigma that surrounds getting tattoos and hopes others won’t judge so harshly when viewing a person with tattoos.